From Mike Riggs at Reason, describing Gary Johnson’s speech to the ACLU:
Johnson said he’d cut the military’s budget and end Obama’s interventionism. It wasn’t until he got started on legalizing marijuana that the crowd (figuratively) lit up. A steady stream of applause followed Johnson’s declarations after that.
“I support gay marriage equality. I support repealing the PATRIOT Act. I would have vetoed the Department of Homeland Security, because I think it’s redundant. I would’ve never established the department of—the TSA agency. I think we should end the practices of torture. Period. I can understand the complexities in the following, but I think we should end the practices of detainment without being charged. There is nothing I want to see the government come in and fix with the Internet.”
Johnson also made a point throughout the evening of highlighting the differences between himself and Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas), who sought and received Johnson’s endorsement in 2008.
“I don’t think that Ron Paul is going to win the Republican nomination. For the most part, we are talking about the same message, but we do have differences. And when he drops out, or finds an end to the Republican primary, I don’t see this agenda moving forward,” Johnson said.
“And I think it’s important to point out differences between myself and Ron Paul. I don’t support building a fence across the border, I do support gay marriage equality, I do believe in a strong national defense. I do believe in our alliance with Israel, for example. And I think military alliances are key to reducing military spending by 43 percent and still provide for a strong national defense. And I believe in a woman’s right to choose.”
The crowd went nuts over that last one.
Nate Nelson at United Liberty adds:
Johnson could pose problems for both Obama and the eventual Republican nominee. On the one hand, Johnson built a very solid fiscal and economic record as Governor of New Mexico — which could appeal to Paul supporters and other Republicans as well as right-leaning independents who may feel disaffected if Romney, Gingrich, or Santorum wins the GOP nomination. On the other hand, there are some remarkable differences between Johnson and Paul that could help him succeed in appealing to the more left-leaning so-called “liberaltarians” and even some non-libertarian progressive Democrats and independents whom Paul has so far failed to win over.
It’s unlikely in the extreme that Johnson will win the presidential election. The electoral game is too rigged against third parties and, besides, the Libertarian Party’s dysfunctional nomination process will officially put him into the general election campaign far too late for him to assemble the kind of grassroots movement he’d need to win. But Johnson could well be a problem for both major parties. He could be competitive in his home state and throughout the Southwest, which could make the race for some pivotal swing states even more interesting than usual. In other words, he could play the role of spoiler in the upcoming general election even better than Ralph Nader did in 2000, and it should scare the pants off both Republicans and Democrats that it’s still unclear whose campaign he could spoil.
ACLU Executive Director Anthony Romero also drew the Nader comparison:
“Do you run the risk, in other words, of being a Ralph Nader, given the fact that you have so much more coincidence with the president’s agenda than with Mr. Romney or Mr. Gingrich?”
Meanwhile, Johnson has an article in the conservative Washington Times newspaper spelling out his plan for spending cuts and a national sales tax plan known by its proponents as the FairTax. Excerpt:
Here I present a simple but drastic economic plan to foster a boom in America.
First, we need to get rid of the income tax. When our first great Supreme Court justice, John Marshall, equated the power to tax and the power to destroy, he was predicting what’s happening to our country right now. Giant, slow corporations spend their money on lobbying because tax avoidance is where their profit is. General Electric earned $14.2 billion in 2010 and paid zero taxes on it. Why? Because it has the lobbyists to get subsidies and tax breaks.
But those mom-and-pop stores? The tech startups? The nimble new corporations with new ideas and new visions for our economy? They pay as much as 35 cents on every dollar they earn. When the company pays its employees, the government taxes that money again. We need to stop taxing work, savings and investment. I advocate removing all income taxes, all capital-gains taxes, and replacing them with a consumption tax, kind of a national sales tax called the Fair-tax.
We also need to get rid of payroll taxes. Look at it from the perspective of employers for a moment. When they want to hire someone, it costs more than just the wage they’re paying. They have to pay payroll taxes, including for Social Security and Medicare. That cost is about 10 percent of the wages they pay an employee. Remove that burden, and employers will be able to hire 10 percent more people. With an unemployment rate of 10 percent, why wouldn’t we jump at this chance? The Fair-tax replaces employment and payroll taxes.
At the same time, I have proposed cutting the federal budget by 43 percent to bring it into balance. It can be done. It requires the will and ability to ignore and even fight the special interests that have a vested interest in more and more government spending. Our system is corrupted by special-interest campaign contributions. Crony capitalism permeates our government. The result is that, as the Congressional Budget Office reported this week, the deficit for 2012 will once again exceed $1 trillion.
The Washinton Times article incorrectly says that “Gary Johnson is the Libertarian Party nominee for president….”
Johnson’s plan stands in contrast to candidates such as Lee Wrights and RJ Harris, who are also seeking the Libertarian presidential nomination and have different proposals on taxes and spending. Wrights has his own plan for cutting spending and a couple of articles laying out his criticism of the FairTax (TM) plan, while Harris says
Fellow citizens, if you elect me as President I will exempt you from personal taxes by ending the IRS and allowing nothing to take its place. Then I will end the federal welfare system and the benefits will come from having stopped the government from stealing what you earn along with your ability to be as thrifty or as beneficent as you choose.
Finally, Johnson’s campaign has put out a message contrasting their candidate with two other past Libertarian presidential nominees other than Ron Paul (1988) – Bob Barr (2008) and Michael Badnarik (2004), and also by implication with Harry Browne (1996/2000).
George Phillies reports:
In a widely-circulated message “Paid for by Gary Johnson 2012” a writer identified as Andrew Ferguson wrote in part:
“Flash back to the last election cycle. No, go back two, to 2004, when the LP, still reeling from Harry Browne’s machinations, nominated a complete unknown as its presidential candidate. The list of “missed opportunities by the Libertarian Party” is a long and tragicomic one, but surely the choice of Michael Badnarik must be at or near the top: in an election evenly split between the military-statist Bush and the eco-statist Gore, the LP could’ve had a healthy cut of the excluded middle – but Badnarik’s was not the name to draw those voters.”
(The letter writer seems to have been unaware that Kerry was the Democratic nominee who ran against Badnarik in 2004, and that Al Gore ran against Harry Browne in 2000, with Bush being the Republican nominee both times. Back to the letter:)
“In 2008, with that swing-and-a-miss behind them, the LP whiffed with the opposite approach, nominating a big name who was a, shall we say, imperfect fit with party ideals. I’m not one to deny the place of pragmatism in politics, but the man who authored the Defense of Marriage Amendment and fervently prosecuted the Drug War was a strange choice for the supposed party of freedom. No matter how hard he pushed his Road to Damascus narrative, a large chunk of the LP base (namely, donors and state and local party poobahs) was never going to buy into his campaign.”
“As a result, Bob Barr’s failure was utterly predictable – the rift in the party in 2008 was clear for all to see – but more to the point, just as utterly inevitable. In Barack Obama, the Democrats found a candidate who could reach out to the same undecideds the LP tries to make its own – those looking to cast a vote in dissent, anything so long as it has nothing to do with the party in power. Empty as we now know (or always knew) his promises of “Hope” and “Change” to be, they were nonetheless effective in closing off any change the Libertarians had of playing a role in the last cycle.”
(I believe that the writer meant chance, not change, in the last part of the preceding sentence. Back to the letter:)
“All of which is to say, the LP screwed up by getting its candidates backward – if anything, the off-the-ranch Republican with name recognition would have fared much better in 2004, serving as an alternative to two unpalatable statists. Meanwhile, 2008 would have been the time to run an outsider, someone who could elucidate a libertarian point of view, in the rare moments he (or she – vide Mary Ruwart) was called upon to do so.”